Michael is in his mid-40s, lives in the west end and is “semi-retired.” He says he is “a minimalist, a leader, cerebral, funny, self-assured, kind, polite and considerate of others.” He likes exercising, travelling to new and interesting places, “engaging with different kinds of art, culture and entertainment,” reading about politics, cleaning and organizing, and volunteering for various good causes. He says he is looking for a woman who is “intelligent, confident and a challenge.”
I met Isla online. We had texted to arrange a time and a place. On the day she was free, I already had a single ticket for a matinee. I wasn’t sure she would be interested and, even if she was, getting another ticket would mean sitting in different areas of the theatre. I planned to attend alone as I had intended, and asked her if she would like to meet for a late lunch or early dinner after, at a burger place within walking distance of the theatre.
Isla was late. Rather than meeting the accusing eyes of the server, I ordered a meal. I thought it was the best thing to do under the circumstances, as there was a line to be seated. Isla turned up just after the server had taken my order. It was then that she told me she didn’t eat bread. I was surprised to hear that, because she knew in advance that the restaurant was a burger place. I don’t know why someone who can’t eat bread would agree to meet there. I don’t know if she was intolerant of gluten or not, as she didn’t elaborate.
I changed my order to takeout. We had to stand near the door waiting for my food. It was not the best start to a date. Isla was beautiful and quiet. While we were waiting, I took out my phone and looked online for restaurants that were nearby. It turned out that a legendary restaurant I’d never been to was only a few minutes away. I asked Isla if that place would be suitable for her and she said yes.
However, once we were seated, Isla told me that she was vegan. The menu was traditional American, with mostly meat dishes. There was actually one vegan item on the menu, but it didn’t seem to interest her. I respect other people’s food choices, but all of this made her a difficult date to eat with. I wished she would have suggested a restaurant where she could have eaten something instead.
I ordered steak with potatoes and vegetables for me, and some fries for her. The server told me that we both had to order meals. I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I didn’t want to leave a restaurant for the second time. I ended up ordering more food for myself than I had planned so we could stay.
I ate as much as I could while I simultaneously carried the conversation. I don’t like to talk with my mouth full, but I felt obligated to fill the silence. Isla either did not have a lot to say or was choosing to not say much. She also seemed disinterested in everything I said to her. She ate a few fries and then excused herself. I was glad to be alone so I could work on the mountain of food in front of me. I hate eating while my date stares silently at me from across the table.
When Isla returned she ate a couple more fries and then excused herself again. She spent much of the meal away from the table. I guessed that she was on her phone in the ladies room. By the time she came back, I had finally finished my meal.
I went to the men’s room and, as I walked back to the table, I saw Isla smoking outside. I realized that she had probably been smoking throughout the meal. That was a deal-breaker for me. I had quit smoking years ago. I don’t mind if my partner smokes on occasion, but if Isla couldn’t last the duration of a meal without smoking several cigarettes that would be a problem for me.
We left the restaurant and went for a walk. The bad weather and Isla’s ongoing silences made conversation impossible. Eventually we agreed to part ways, and a cab pulled up and Isla was driven out of my life.
Michael rates his date (out of 10): 2
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